Should my website be mobile?
By Marc Carson
Update: Technology has been changing since I wrote this article. These days, websites that aren’t small-screen (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android, etc.) friendly are almost the exception! I started several new sites like this in 2011, and I expect to be developing even more small-screen friendly sites in 2012.
I’ve had a lot of clients contact me about mobile websites lately.
Now, my website is mobile-optimized (have a look with your mobile!). But my clients want to know if they should plan on creating a mobile website for their visitors.
Here’s how to decide.
Look at the Numbers
Your existing website should be gathering statistics when people visit. The statistics should allow you (or someone like me — feel free to ask for help) to discover how many of your website visitors are browsing with mobile devices.
If a significant number are arriving on iPhones, Android phones, iPods, or other mobile devices, that’s a good clue: You should investigate the mobile experience you’re offering right now. How does your website look on an iPhone? I can show you, or you might own one yourself.
Look at your Audience
If you really want to do a mobile site, and your web statistics don’t show any mobile visitors, hopefully your target audience is made up of adults under age 50. Otherwise, market surveys show that it may not be worth the cost.
But getting down to your exact audience — who are your best customers? Who are your favorite clients? Can you just survey them personally and ask if they use a mobile device, if they plan on it, or if they’d like to have your website on their mobile?
Look at the Customer Experience
Do people need your website when they’re on the go? Who needs it, and why do they need it on the go?
Try to build up a few examples. Here’s one:
Amy is a 55 year-old administrator at a nonprofit organization for local volunteers. She likes reading your blog for local nonprofits, but finds the regular website text too small to read on her iPhone. She usually browses your blog on her laptop at work, but sometimes she’s traveling and prefers to relax and use her iPhone, which was her favorite purchase this year.
It might be important for you to provide someone like Amy with an improved mobile experience. She may refer others to your website, or perhaps she’s always coming to you with helpful leads or information.
If the customer keeps coming back, it’s worth ensuring they’re having a comfortable experience.
Look at Your Own Experience
Do you use a mobile device to surf to your own website? If so, it might be worth it to you to invest in a mobile version.
Busy owners of small- to medium-size businesses will sometimes ask for a mobile-optimized website for “selfish purposes,” because they want to browse their own website for information that might not otherwise reach them.
Busy administrators and business owners are not always in a comfortable place to pull out a laptop, so a mobile device really comes in handy. Administrative, review-related activities are frequently done during downtime, when mobile devices are very handy.
Mobile Control Panel
If you’d like to update your website from a mobile device, I can provide a mobile-optimized control panel that works on the go. Use travel downtime as an excuse to update your website with the latest news!
How I Decided
I’m a web designer. If I don’t have a mobile website, I risk losing some credibility as a subject matter expert.
Are you in a similar field? Can an investment in new technology help you stand out from the competition?
Or would a mobile website help you start a unique and noteworthy conversation with your customers?
If you work in a niche where your competitors wish they knew what a mobile website was, a mobile website could strengthen your position as the bold one who’s really going places.
Continuing the Conversation
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